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News 14 Sep 17

Kosovo Police Stop ‘Illegal’ Serb Census Attempts

Kosovo police on Wednesday night raided branches of the Serbian Red Cross and detained several individuals amid claims they were undertaking an unauthorized census.

Perparim Isufi
BIRN
Pristina
A mural in Northern Mitrovica. Photo: Avalit/CC BY-SA 3.0

Kosovo Police said they raided Serbian Red Cross centres on the authorisation of the courts on Wednesday night in Prizren, Pristina, Pejë/Pec, Gjilan/Gnjilane and Mitrovicë/Mitrovica.

“Seized documents are suspected to be related to a census, considered suspicious and in contradiction to the law, as a census should be conducted by Kosovo institutions,” the police press release said.

During the operations, police questioned several individuals who were found on the premises at the time of the raids.

Police also said that, in the northern Serbian half of the divided town of Mitrovica, their officers were assaulted.

Kosovo conducted its first official census in 2011 but the Serbian community mostly boycotted it, following advice from the Belgrade government not to take part.

Last year, the Kosovo government made fresh attempts to undertake an extraordinary census in Serb-inhabited areas but it never materialized.

The 2011 census, which left Serbs under-represented in general population data, showed that 91 per cent of Kosovo’s population of 1.8 million were Albanian and 3.4 per cent were Serbs. The remainder were Turks, Bosniaks, Roma, Ashkali, Egyptians and others.

Some Kosovo Serb politicians say they regret not having taken part in the 2011 census, as the data help inform the important allocation of budget funds.

In April, the mayor of the mainly Serbian town of Gracanica/Graçanicë mayor, Vladeta Kostic, told BIRN that the 2011 census boycott has caused troubles for his small municipality.

This was because the government allocated budget money according to the number of residents counted in the census.

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